One of the two races that Formula 1 is set to hold at Silverstone this season looks likely to air exclusively live on pay television, Motorsport Broadcasting can reveal.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the curtailment of the first half of the 2020 season, with the season now expected to begin with a double header in Austria on July 5th and July 12th.
Current plans indicate that Silverstone will play host to rounds three and four on July 26th and August 2nd, circuit bosses confirming today that F1 had reached a deal with the circuit “to host two races behind closed doors this summer.”
However, it appears unlikely that both races will air live on free-to-air television. Since 2012, the free-to-air broadcaster in question (BBC until 2015 and Channel 4 thereafter), have been able to air the British Grand Prix live on free-to-air television.
Up until this point, it has not been clear whether the free-to-air broadcaster could also air other races that took place within the UK. The last time two F1 races took place in the UK in the same year was 1993, when Donington Park played host to the European Grand Prix.
Speaking to this site, a Channel 4 spokesperson has confirmed that the broadcaster will cover the race F1 officially calls the British Grand Prix live. In other words, if F1 decides to badge the second weekend as the European Grand Prix, then it will air exclusively live on Sky.
The key here is the official name of the Grand Prix weekend, not the location F1 are holding the race in.
Of course, the second round from Red Bull Ring also could be called the European Grand Prix, but geographical boundaries suggest that the Slovenian Grand Prix would perhaps a better fit, and there is past precedence in situations like this (see: Imola and San Marino or the Nürburgring and Luxembourg 1997).
The alternative is that F1 badges the second British Grand Prix as ‘British Grand Prix race 2’, in a similar vein to Formula E’s double header weekends. If that happens, well, your guess is as good as mine. Or, alternatively, maybe F1 can finally have their London Grand Prix. Just a 90-minute drive away…